College Road Trip…The Official Freshman Drop Off with Ford

It’s been eight days since we officially dropped our daughter off at college and as a Freshman parent newbie, I have to say, there are definitely things I would do differently after seeing other kids arrive with their parents.  As our daughter was packing for school and I was busy shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Harmon and Home Goods, the pile of items we were planning to transport to Philadelphia was enormous.  So much so that we quickly realized there was no way we were going to able to fit everything into our small SUV.

But thanks to Ford, which had generously offered me the chance to try out their 2018 Ford Explorer, we managed to fit everything into their SUV.  The 7 seater white SUV which was tricked out with tons of technology and a dual sunroof, arrived the afternoon before we hit the road – giving us the chance to start putting all of our daughter’s belongings into the trunk as if it was an elaborate puzzle. What I really loved about the car was that the third row folds under electronically – expanding the size of the trunk which also opens and closes with the press of a button. We managed to fit all of her clothes which had been stuffed in huge duffel bags that we had previously used for sleep-away camp.  I had also read on the popular college parents blog Grown & Flown that I should buy large plastic Ikea bags to pack more of her things in the car so I of course bought about 6 bags and stuffed as much as I could inside.  Take a look…

Thankfully, the SUV had a back up camera so even though we couldn’t see out the back window, we were safe because we were able to see what was behind us.  I also loved that the car beeps if you are too close to a car next to you — which totally helps when you’re parking. Another favorite tech option is a light that appears on the side view mirrors which warns you not to change lanes if a car is too close to you. And if you’ve been driving too long, it will ask prompt you with a message to consider taking a break!

While I couldn’t see my family as we drove toward Philadelphia, I still managed to find some room for my legs in the comfy leather seats. One of my favorite options in the second row was the USB charger and plug that’s conveniently placed in the middle console. That came in handy when my son decided to finish his summer homework on the way back from a trip to the Hamptons later that weekend. But I digress…


We made it to Temple University and unloaded the SUV within 5 minutes and then my husband went to park the car so that we could load everything into the dorm and before we knew it, she was moved in.

Even though I think we moved half our house into her dorm room – which incidentally is nicer than most city apartments I’ve seen–they have a view of Philadelphia from their windows-I still found myself feverishly ordering more items that were shipped to her dorm from Amazon Prime Target, Dormify and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Lesson learned – you don’t necessarily have to take everything with you on the first day, thanks to modern technology, even if it arrives a few days later, it’s still totally fine.  Take a look at how her room looks now…it’s so awesome it was even featured on the Dormify Instagram page!

move in day done right 👌 // rg @beccadreww

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Once we drove back home, we took the Explorer for another road trip – this time a weekend visit to my parent’s house in the Hamptons and on this adventure, we brought our son and our dog Santana, who happens to love driving in the car with us. We made sure to put her dog bed on the floor and covered her seat with a blanket and she obediently took her seat and watched out the window until we arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.


From Philly to New Ro and now to Southampton. Road tripping with @Ford #FordExplorer and @santanafuentes

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Over the weekend, we managed to squeeze six of us in the car, visited a winery, hit the town of Southhampton for ice cream, shopped and before we knew we it, we were back on the road…

Since we have to turn our car back into the dealer within the next few months, I have to say, that I totally loved the Ford Explorer.  I may opt for an even smaller SUV but was so grateful to be able to take our daughter to college in one car!  Thanks so much to the team at Ford for your generosity…I am officially a Ford fan!

Disclosure:  The Ford Motor Company provided a Ford Explorer for our family to test drive for our college road trip and weekend adventure.  All opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own!

10 Things to Do In Bar Harbor Maine

One of my all time favorite vacations with my family took place in Bar Harbor Maine. Thanks to my friend Jennie Baird, I was armed and ready with her family’s favorite things to do in Bar Harbor and I have to say, Jennie was right on the money. So this list includes a few of Jennie’s picks sprinkled in with our fave finds. Take a look…
IMG_0554.jpg1. Watching the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen is Cadillac Mountain, located high atop a summit in Acadia National Park. The views are incredible and the kids had fun climbing the rocks as we looked out over the water and watched the sun go down over the mountains. One suggestion – dress warm! Once the sun disappears, the temperature drops at least 15 degrees.
2. Diver Ed’s Dive in Theater – This made Jennie’s kids’ must see list and it tops ours too. If your family is in the mood for entertainment, then get ready for Ed – a diver/commercial scallop fisherman who appears to be a cross between Jim Belushi and Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”). Diver Ed, his incredibly knowledgeable and witty wife, mini Ed (a tiny action figure who takes a beating from sea creatures), Evil Ed (I believe a guy with a beard who was perched at the back of the boat), his nephew and two New Foundland dogs who demonstrate how to properly wear a life vest, offer an action packed underwater tour for passengers. No worries – you and your kids don’t participate in the dive (the water is way too cold), but Diver Ed jumps in three times a day along with a hi-tech video camera that he uses to captures the activity 25 feet below the sea and a bag that he uses to catch a few creatures that he brings back on board so that the kids can touch, carry and play. The only request – don’t squeeze the animals! The tour lasts two hours and it’s well worth the trip – even in the rain!
IMG_0621.jpg3. Jordan Pond Nature Trails & the Jordan Pond House – If you’re up for a hike that’s not too strenuous and ends in tea with popovers overlooking Jordan Pond, then this is the excursion for you. Jordan Pond Restaurant can get pretty busy so be prepared to wait or if you’re impatient like us, buy a Popover mix (or chilled whoopie pies) in the gift shop and make them when you get home. The trail we took led us along the pond – giving us ample time to take frequent breaks where the kids sat on the rocks and my daughter accidentally stepped in the water with one of her converse sneakers – not a particularly fun moment for her but she survived. The views from the base of the pond were gorgeous – we captured several shots of Bubble Mountain. We called it something else though – take a guess…
IMG_0571.jpg4. Listen to the Waves at Thunder Hole – Another must see in Acadia National Park – where the water crashes into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder – hence the name. There are also places to climb although if you have a fear of heights, I’d say opt for the Jordan Pond excursion and hold onto the railing at Thunder Hole while you watch the waves.
IMG_0591.JPG5. Take a Walk to Bar Island During Low Tide – This was totally cool – in the morning, the entire area is covered in water and by late afternoon, the sand bar is exposed so that cars can drive and pedestrians and dogs can walk across to Bar Island. The kids can cruise for shells and crabs while you take a lazy walk along the beach. But make sure you head back before the tide rolls back in or else you’ll be swimming back to your hotel!
IMG_0570.jpg6. Whale & Puffin Watch, Nature Cruise or Lobster and Seal Watch – The Whale Watch takes the longest and fills up first and can also be tough for people with weak stomachs so I suggest the Lobster fishing and Seal Watching excursion that only lasts 90 minutes. Your kids will get the chance to touch sea creatures (like Diver Ed’s adventure but not as funny) and you can get some great photos of seals. And they don’t go too far out to sea, so the ride is pretty smooth.
7. Best Breakfast – Michelle’s Bistro – There are a few breakfast joints in Bar Har including Jeannie’s (there’s always a wait) and Testa’s, but don’t believe the hype or long lines. Our favorite by far was Michelle’s Bistro – located in an Inn near some cute shops (my fave was the store that was full of Suncatchers). We sat out back on a deck, enjoyed blueberry pancakes, omelets, french toast and more and the service was fabulous. And the kids loved Rosie – the proprietor’s friendly and fluffy dog.
IMG_0564.JPG8. Best food and fun for Adults & Kids – Geddy’s – It took a few tries to get into Geddy’s but once we did, we understood why there’s always a wait. They have tons of lobsters, towers of nachos, fried seafood galore and friendly waiters who take your picture and put it on their website. Plus, the kids placemats rock. Trust me when I tell you they’ll be coloring throughout dinner and once they’re done, they can present their finished product to the gift shop and win a prize (some beads and tchotchkes from a treasure chest). We also loved Geddy’s Down Under – the gift shop where the kids picked up cool sweat shirts and my husband bought a rain coat for a steal (less than $30).
IMG_0633.JPG9. Blueberry Mojitos at the Harborside – This summer, it’s been all about blueberries and since Maine is known for them, I decided to try out all the alcoholic beverages featuring this incredibly healthy fruit – hello acai berries! While Stewman’s Lobster Pound offers a blueberry martini (which I tried), the best blueberry beverage on the island goes to the Harborside which offers blueberry mojitos by the pool – in two words: muy delicioso!
IMG_0601.jpg10. Best Ice Cream – Ben & Bills – Within 24 hours of arriving in Bar Harbor, we discovered Ben & Bills – where they make their own ice cream and fudge and the line loops out the door every single night. In fact, they even sell lobster ice cream – which we tried – the kids didn’t care for it much but instead, opted for the chocolate tsunami (chocolate, marshmallow, oreos and more) and I went for the sugar free blueberry ice cream. Just be prepared – while you’re deciding what to order, the scoopers are constantly shuffling you down the line – it can get a bit off-putting when you’re trying to make a decision but I guess that’s how they keep the patrons coming in fast and furious. I discovered while we were there that USA Today just selected Ben & Bill’s as the best ice cream parlor in Maine and as a dessert afficionado, I knew my senses were right on target!
A few more picks include Stewman’s Lobster Pound which was visited by the Obama’s this summer (they’ve got a sign to prove it), the amazing Italian restaurant at the Harborside where you get to create your own pasta dish and the Bar Harbor Club where we received a host of spa treatments – from a facial, to massage, a dip in the jacuzzi and a manicure.
Have you been to Maine? If so, share your top picks and stories!

Affordable Retail Therapy in the Hamptons

Feeling much better after a little retail therapy!

The summer is almost here and for me, that can only mean one thing – it’s time to hit the Hamptons! Now truth be told, I do not have millions of dollars.  Luckily, my amazing parents, who were super smart back in the day, purchased a home in Southampton a few years before I got married and never left. That means that my husband and I have had a summer home away from home where we were able to bring our kids and our dog practically every weekend.  I’ve loved getting the chance to visit my parents and one of my favorite things to do is to shop!

Now for those of you who have never been to the Hamptons, the sticker shock at some of those boutiques can be daunting, but if you are a savvy shopper like me, you can track down some amazing finds in between all those ridiculous prices and come back with clothes and accessories that will have your friends constantly asking you, “Where did you get that?” So today, when one of my favorite stores was closed (I’m crossing my fingers she’s not out of business), I found another great store that just moved from Jobs Lane to Main Street that is definitely going to be my new personal fave…Therapy Life & Style.

Day 1 – Therapy Life & Style

This boutique moved to a new location in Southampton. They are now at 38 Main Street and they have the trendiest tops, dresses, coverups, jeans and more and the prices are fantastic!!!!!


The minute I walked into this boutique, I fell in love with all their cute tops, dresses, jeans, sweaters, beach cover ups, pretty much everything.  But the best part about the store are the prices!!!!  I was totally expecting to see price tags that were out of my range and thankfully, everything in the store is affordable!  Take a look at my fabulous finds..

Love these two tops from Therapy Life & Style in Southampton – totally could have bought out the entire store!


Day 2 – Piccolo Bella, 49 Main Street, Southampton

The secret is out – every summer, without fail, I find the cutest tops, skirts, dresses and summer sweaters at Piccolo Bella, a fabulous boutique located right next to my favorite furniture store, Hildreth’s. This year, we stopped by the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend and the store was closed and I was afraid they may have gone out business, but luckily, they were just getting ready for summer season and when they removed the paper in front of the windows, the results were amazing. I picked up a beautiful white silk top that will be perfect for our upcoming trip to Paris to celebrate my daughter’s graduation.

Day 3 – Southampton Farmer’s Market

One of my favorite things I love to do in the summer is visit the Southampton Farmer’s Market which takes place every Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Farmer’s market is a foodie lover’s heaven featuring local cheeses, wines, baked goods, honey, gluten free items, flowers, pickles, chicken burgers and more.  But there’s more than just food – there’s also jewelry and today, I even found an awesome hat vendor. Take a look…

Check out this amazing new hat – super stylish in time for Paris trip!

Day 3 – Westhampton, Chic Boutique

While it’s easy to spend the entire weekend strolling the streets of Southampton, there are a ton of towns to explore and one of my personal faves is Westhampton. There are even more amazing boutiques to visit and today, I discovered Chic Boutique and it was love at first sight.  I picked up three gorgeous tops that are perfect for work, vacation and weekends too.  And best of all, the prices are totally affordable.

My new favorite shopping addiction in Westhampton…Chic Boutique

While my shopping adventure might be complete this weekend, there’s much more to come when it comes to the Hamptons.  Next up…my favorite restaurants. For now, I’m going to try on my latest fashion finds!

20 Things to Do with Tweens & Teens in NYC

grimaldis.jpgI have to say, now that my kids are getting older, I’ve actually been having a great time exploring every nook and cranny of New York City with them. Since we don’t have to worry about strollers, whining and potty breaks, my kids and I are foot loose, fancy free and subway bound. So what do we do when we hit the Big Apple? Simple, check out our top 20 list and give some of these attractions and activities a whirl.
1. Head to a NYC street fair and browse through all the kiosks and savor the tasty food.
2. High tail it to Times Square where you can hit M&M world, ESPN Zone, Bubba Gump Shrimp, and more.
3. Kids fixated with theme restaurants? Then visit my family faves Planet Hollywood, Mars 2112, Hard Rock Cafe or Jekyll & Hyde.
4. On October 27, head to Bryant Park for holiday shopping and ice skating
5. Rent bikes and then head to Central Park for a family ride.
6. Dessert anyone? That one’s simple – Serendipity, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Cafe Lalo are a few of my faves.
7. Hit Bowlmor Lanes or Lucky Strike for some family fun.
8. In the Halloween spirit? Then visit Ricky’s Costume Shop and then head to the Limelight Marketplace where you can dine on a delectable pie at Grimaldi’s pizza (cash only).
9. Take your kids to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and check out the incredible mummy exhibit.
10. Shop in the Flatiron district at H&M, Forever 21, the Farmers Market and more.
11. Movies anyone? Hit AMC Lincoln Square for the coolest film going experience ever.
12. Best musical hands down for Tweens (and their moms)…WICKED!!!
13. Visit Ellen’s Startdust diner for a burger, shake and singing waiters and waitresses.
13. When in doubt, visit the Nintendo world store at Rockefeller Center.
14. Try a family sport outing with golf, skating, basketball and more at Chelsea Piers.
15. Hop aboard a Spirit of New York cruise around New York.
16. Stroll down Fifth Avenue and visit Tiffany’s…window shopping is always free.
17. Enjoy tea and scones at Alice’s Tea Cup or head to the Plaza Hotel for high tea.
18. On Saturdays, visit the upper west side and shop the GreenFlea market on 77th and Columbus Avenue – then head to Isabella’s for brunch and their chocolate basket for dessert. Yummy.
19. Rent Sleepless in Seattle and watch with your tween. Then head to the top of the Empire State Building and pretend you’re Meg Ryan.
20. Go kayaking or canoeing along the east river or just bike along the trail that’ll take you all the way to Battery Park City.
More fun outings to come. We still haven’t hit Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown – guess a new top 20 list will be coming your way soon!

The Block Island Fave Five

images.jpegIt’s the summer and that can only mean one thing…time for a few Role Mommy Road Trips! First stop…Block Island. If you live on the east coast and have never ventured out to this tiny island with your family, then you don’t know what you’re missing! Dozens of great restaurants, beaches galore, charming bed and breakfasts, boutique shops with tons of Vera Bradley bags :), haunted houses (gotta love that) and picturesque bike trails.

In case you’re planning a trip to Block Island, here are five of my favorite things…
IMG00210.jpg1. It’s Easy to Get There – If you live on the east coast, there are ferries from Montauk, New London, and our personal fave, Point Judith. While it takes about three hours to drive to Pt. Judith from our house, once you purchase your tickets to the high speed ferry, it only takes 30 minutes to get to the island. Just make sure you don’t eat your lunch because these days, the seas are seriously rough. One of the staffers was even circling the seating area with barf bags. Luckily we didn’t use them – but I did take one just in case!
IMG00230.jpg2. Bed & Breakfasts, Haunted Hotels and Hospitality Galore – Have to say, I love where we’re staying this year. It’s called The Island Home and the innkeeper, Dina, is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. We’ve also stayed at the Narragansett Inn (pictured above) and Kathy, who has run the hotel for nearly two decades, is also so sweet, remembers our kids and is a great conversationalist too! Wonder why we’re not staying there this year? Just buy “The Ghosts Of Block Island” and you’ll find out why! I’m a little skittish on the ghost front and supposedly, most of the B&B’s and hotels are haunted. No sign of apparitions where we are, but we still have a few days (and nights) left!
IMG00242.jpg3. Mansion Beach – Thanks to our great friends, we’ve discovered the best beach on the island. It’s called Mansion Beach and you’ve got to get their early or else you’ll never find a parking spot for your car. But once you’re there, the waves are high, the sights are gorgeous and I get to dive into my beach read! Oh – and did I mention that every year, our good friends have an annual reunion with their high school and college buddies, and invited us a few years back to join the caravan. The highlight of our beach experience is topped off by one of their actor friends, who goes by the name of “Pirate Tom” and hosts a massive treasure hunt for kids of all ages. While the expedition initially started out about a decade ago with two kids, there were about 50 children racing for pirate booty during Pirate Tom’s latest adventure! Don’t believe me, check out this vintage clip of Pirate Tom from 2007!

IMG00261.jpg4. Shopping Anyone? Ever wonder where all those kitschy items that are reviewed by some of my favorite mom blogs (Cool Mom Picks) can be found? Simple, the boutique shops of Block Island. From onesies that say “Chicks Dig Me” to changing pads called Cushy Tushies, plus great Vera Bradley bags and craft fairs galore (where I picked up a gorgeous picture frame and mail box with hydrangeas on it from a local artist who summers in Block Island and lives full-time in Houston), shopping in Block Island is one of my favorite pastimes!
IMG00227.jpg5. The Summer of Lobster Continues…Did I mention the amazing restaurants on the island like the Spring House and the Atlantic Inn? There is nothing quite like seafood in the summer time and lucky for us, the Spring House, which is set atop a picturesque hill overlooking the bay, has steamed and stuffed lobster on the menu – along with mouth watering appetizers and desserts (they had me at key lime creme brulee). And the wine list is killer too. Oh, and about that view…
tradition_header.jpgFor more information, visit Block Island tourism.

Love Cars? Then Head to the NY Auto Show March 25-April 3

17_mb_slc-class-620x413.jpgI have to admit – while I may not know how to fix a car, I have always loved the feeling of shopping for a new set of wheels. From a sleek sunroof, a super tricked out interior, to wifi, Sirius XM and of course, GPS options, there’s something to be said about getting the chance to check out what’s in store this coming year on the car front.
If you’re planning to buy or lease a car this year, then don’t miss the New York Auto Show which kicks off on March 25 and runs through April 3. Plus, if you enter our rafflecopter giveaway, you could be eligible to win two free tickets to the auto show along with a $150 gift card. And if that’s not enough, join us on March 21 for a fun and prize filled Twitter party on March 21 where will be talking about our favorite cars. Incidentally, my dream car is a Mercedes hard top convertible — that’s not happening any time soon but maybe I’ll get to sit in one at the car show!
The Auto Show twitter party will take place on March 21, from 8-9pm ET. The hashtag is #GNONYIAS16. We’ll be announcing the winner of the rafflecopter contest during the party too so join the fun and definitely come to the Auto Show – it’s going to be a blast!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 Things to Do in St. Thomas

1.Enjoy the Fabulous Views
Meet the seagull that visited our balcony every morning at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
The running theme I found at Frenchman’s Reef was that every restaurant, bar and hotel room has an incredible view. Whether you are dining on the beach at CoCo Joe’s, enjoying a buffet brunch at Aqua Terra which has stunning island and harbor views, or spending the evening star gazing at the Rum Bar, the resort has incredible picture taking options wherever you turn — and even has selfie stations where you can snap the ultimate photo. Or you can just sit on your balcony each morning, greet a bird and snap a photo. Just use the Twitter handle @FrenchmansReef #TravelBrilliantly if you’d like to share your photos while you’re vacationing.
2. Eat, Eat and then Eat Some More.
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Favorite restaurant in St. Thomas: Havana Blue
The Marriott provides a free shuttle service that takes you to all of their properties and that definitely comes in handy after you’ve taken a long stroll to the beach and are too tired to walk back to your room. While we were able to dine at all the restaurants located near the hotel, our favorite was Havana Blue, an upscale latin inspired dining option with ocean views, a fabulous wine list, cocktails and desserts that were out of this world. The service was phenomenal, and the food was spectacular. My daughter couldn’t get enough of the snapper special and I was partial to the s’mores cocktail. Just be prepared — the prices at Havana Blue are incredibly expensive but if you’re looking for an amazing dining experience, then it’s a can’t miss when visiting St. Thomas. Right below Havana Blue is the Sand Bar, a less expensive dining option for couples and families that’s located right next to the beach and also offers a weekend brunch.
3. Take lots of day trips – snorkeling, paddle boarding, beaches and more!
I have to say that the best part of our visit to St. Thomas were the excursions we took each day. Right in the lobby of Frenchman’s Reef is the Adventure Center where you can pretty much book any type of tour, snorkeling trip and island hopping package to keep you on your toes throughout the week. While there are hundreds of activities to choose from, we opted for a snorkeling tour, a sunset sail, a visit to St. John, night kayaking, paddle board lessons and once my daughter was instantly hooked, she also tried paddle board yoga.
The dock for all our activities was conveniently located right near our hotel so all we needed to do was walk down a few flights of stairs and then hop on a catamaran or ferry boat to take us to our destination. You can also purchase ferry tickets at the Adventure Center too. A one way ferry ride is $7 per person.
Book all your St. Thomas excursions with the Adventure Center
Best Snorkeling Trip & Sunset Sail: The Cat
4. Shop till you drop
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A trip to St. Thomas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the shops in town. We were pretty strategic with our trip. Since it costs between $6-8 per person to take a taxi into town, my husband and son decided to stay back at the hotel while we took a cab to the shops. We first strolled through an open air market where we could bargain our way to the best price on a knock off bag, beads, jewelry and more.
There are tons of jewelry stores in St. Thomas and you can get some really great deals on tanzanite. We managed to score a pair of tanzanite earrings, a necklace and a ring from a shopkeeper who actually had someone who directed us to his storefront since he was a little off the beaten path. We also picked up a few pairs of Laramar earrings — another stone that’s indigenous to St. Thomas and we even found some gorgeous paintings that we purchased that were created by a local artist.
5. Take some great night trips too
While we had an awesome time aboard The Cat for our Sunset Sail, one of the best moments of the trip took place when we went night kayaking (sorry no photos since I was too busy getting freaked out by big fish under my boat). If you’ve never tried that before, it’s pretty amazing. After you get a brief kayaking lesson on shore you hop into a boat with a glass bottom that glows in the dark. Once you’re on the water, you can literally watch as sea turtles, stingrays and a host of other very large fish travel right under your kayak. I also loved that we paddled out to the home of the owner of the Bellagio Hotel which kicks off a light and cannon show every night for onlookers.
Can’t Miss Evening Adventure: Night Kayaking
6. Enjoy at least one romantic dinner while your kids enjoy room service
Spectacular Views & A Mouth Watering Menu: Mafolie
One of the most romantic restaurants in St. Thomas is Mafolie — set high atop a mountain, the restaurant boasts fantastic views of the island and ocean, delicious Caribbean fare and a tasty wine and cocktail list too.
7. Go Island Hopping
Another highlight of the trip was our ferry visit to St. John. While you can take a full tour of the island that includes a visit to a rum plantation and some time at the beach, we decided to hop aboard the ferry and spend the day on our own time. Luckily, we managed to find a very friendly taxi driver named Chris who directed us to a deli for breakfast and then took us to a more secluded beach, Cinnamon Bay where the kids got to paddle board again and I continued reading my book.
Breathtaking views & secluded beaches: St. John
8. Devour as many books as possible
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My Summer 2015 Reads:
The Husband’s Secret
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Who do You Love
Summer Secrets
In the Unlikely Event
9. Order a margarita by the pool
While it is pretty hot and humid in St. Thomas in August, the good news is, wherever you look, there’s the pool or the ocean and even a swim up bar if you don’t want to get out of the water to enjoy a cocktail.
Azul Pool, Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Marriott Resort
10. Do nothing and enjoy it.
St. John
St. John – Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds
Listen in to our Blog Talk Radio Show and hear more about our St. Thomas adventure!

Five Ultimate Summer Vacation Getaways

10471_10151004914625205_343749027_n.jpgTypically this time of year, my entire family gets incredibly antsy and starts begging me to make vacation plans. You see, every summer, without fail, we try to take at least 2-3 vacations so that we can finally unwind from the year and reconnect with one another. The problem is, this year, now that my kids are teenagers, I no longer am the vacation dictator in our family. I used to just select a trip and then tell everyone where we were going on a need to know basis. Not anymore, it’s now a free-for-all where everyone wants to go somewhere else and I have to search the Internet for the most affordable deal that we’ll all enjoy. So here are some of the trips we’re considering…
1. A Royal Caribbean Cruise out of Galveston, Texas — We’ve never actually been to Texas — except on a random connecting flight, but I discovered this port of call while searching for affordable trips this summer. I have tried Royal Caribbean before and am a fan and we’ve never been to some of the cool ports of call that they visit including Honduras, Belize and Falmouth Jamaica. The only question I have is how hot is it in Honduras in August? I’m thinking you could probably fry an egg on any sidewalk and the humidity is probably around 300%.
2. A Mediterranean Cruise — Now this is my #1 choice for a trip and my kids would love it too. I mean who wouldn’t want to see Italy, the South of France, Santorini and Turkey all in one trip? The only downside is the airfare is astronomical during the summer and unless we have $10-$15K stashed away, a European getaway is not in the cards for us this year.
3. Treasure Beach, Jamaica — This is my personal favorite. We’ve already been to this off the beaten path location after visiting Jake’s resort and fell in love with the locale, the people, the food, you name it. In fact, we love it so much we actually want to move there one day. But for now, I’d just love to go back, rent a villa with our own housekeeping staff and read 10 books in 7 days. My family isn’t having it though. They’ve been there, done that and want to go somewhere else. See you another time Jakes…although I miss you desperately!
4. Israel — Here’s another one on my must visit list. I have cousins who live in Haifa who I haven’t seen in years and I cannot wait to introduce my family to them and expose them to some of the most breathtaking and inspiring places I have ever seen in my life. From climbing to the top of Masada to viewing a Roman amphitheater in Cesarea, there is nothing quite like visiting Israel. Again – the price though is a bit out of our range so this one will have to wait a few more years too. Good thing my daughter will be 18 in a few years and can go for free on birthright, maybe we’ll join her then..although I’m sure she’s going to want to go without us.
5. Hawaii — I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and this year, I’m still dreaming of stepping off a plane and taking in all that breathtaking scenery. Plus, I have seen the movie 50 First Dates about 75 times and would probably drag my kids to all the places where they shot scenes for the film. Seriously though, we definitely have this on our destination list — it’s just a matter of finding a good deal so we don’t break the bank.
So there you have it — my 5 must see destinations this summer. I haven’t decided where we are headed yet but something tells me there’s a cruise out of Texas in my future. What about you? What destinations do you plan to hit this summer? If it looks good, I might just change my mind!

Never Get Lost with TomTom!

photo-5.JPGI don’t know about you, but I am a slave to my navigation system. In fact, even when I’m in my own neighborhood, you can find me programming a random address into my TomTom because trust me, without a GPS device, I could be lost for hours. And truth be told, I’ve even lost my way just a mere 10 minutes from my home.
While I’ve become quite dependent on my GPS, with that dependence comes freedom too. If left to my own devices, I would never be able to find any of the baseball fields my son plays on throughout the spring and summer without the help of a navigation system. Recently, I was given the chance to review the new TomTom GO 500/600 and discovered how easy it was to navigate the streets of New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon, Yonkers and more — hitting one remote baseball field after another without getting lost. Now, instead of making it my son’s game by the 3rd inning, with my TomTom, I’m finally getting to the bleachers on time.
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With the TomTom GO 500/600, I can now get places faster and safer with these incredible new advancements:
•  TomTom uses real-time traffic data to inform me where there may excessive traffic, or a road block, and suggests an alternate route to expedite the trip.   
•  TomTom makes it easier map my route with new MyDrive technology. I can actually plan a route on my phone while at the office or out running errands, send it to my TomTom GO 500/600, and be ready to hit the road as soon as I get in the car.
Honestly, it’s really a no brainer – if you don’t have built in GPS in your car or if you rent a car for vacation or business trip, then the TomTom is a perfect solution to help you find your way to your final destination while avoiding those annoying traffic pitfalls along the way.
A 2013 study said that the average mom drives her children around for 1,248 miles per year, or the equivalent of two weeks … and that’s not counting the added hours spent in traffic. How much time do you spend on the road and what would you do with the time you would save not stuck in traffic? Share your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook page for a chance to win a TomTom GO 500/600!
For more information please visit Follow TomTom on Twitter @TomTomUSA and use the hashtag: #GetHomeFaster

Disclosure: The is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and the fact that I am directionally challenged are 100% my own.

Tamera Mowry-Houseley Named Resident Mom of the Year

214038.jpegTamera Mowry-Housley has multiple titles in life: wife, mother, sister, actor, author, talk show host, entrepreneur, and now one more: Resident Mom of the Year.
Recently, at the new Residence Inn Manhattan World Trade Center hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott celebrated its fifth annual Resident Mom of the Year award, by honoring Tamera Mowry-Housley. The program highlights Residence Inn’s commitment to making moms’ lives easier while on the road and at home. Tamera is an inspiration by empowering women to follow their passion, and balance work, play, family and travel – all while feeling gorgeous and staying active.
With a demanding television career, a two-year-old son and a daughter on the way, Tamera understands the challenges of maximizing her time. In just one morning, between her multiple roles, she can keep a live studio audience on their toes, pack for a weeklong family vacation in Central America, and whip up a healthy snack for her toddler. As part of her partnership with Residence Inn, Tamera developed 10 special new “Mom Hacks” to help other busy mothers thrive at home and on the road. From packing tips to “weapons of mass distraction” for the kids, her tricks will help families keep their cool during the hot
summer travel season, and will also be available later this month in video form on Residence Inn’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel.
“With a home on the west coast, family in the mid-west, and work obligations on the east coast, I know what it’s like to have a travel-filled schedule that balances motherhood and a career, with some necessary ‘me-time’ thrown in the mix,” said Tamera, who currently hosts The Real, which was rated the #1 new syndicated talk show of the 2014-2015 television season among women 18-54 and was just renewed for its second season premiering this fall. She and husband Adam Housley welcomed their first child, Aden,
in 2012, and are expecting a baby girl this summer.
“I’m constantly on-the-go with my family, and I love that Residence Inn is everywhere and has all the comforts of home, but even better – with features like grocery delivery service and great options at breakfast, we can focus our attention on the important things, like discovering new places and adventures,” said Tamera. Residence Inn hotels offer spacious suites with full kitchens, free Internet, swimming pools, laundry facilities and complimentary hot breakfast, so families can stick to a routine, while uncovering extra time for new experiences. Offering a peek into her personal pantry, Tamera has created an exclusive kid-friendly healthy cookie recipe for guests of Residence Inn, made with only five
ingredients that can be prepared quickly at home or in a hotel suite.
“As a young mom with a thriving career, she is dedicated to her family, and offers a fresh, creative perspective that is relatable to all parents,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. “Tamera is the perfect Resident Mom as she has grown up in front of our eyes, and stayed on top of her game through the various chapters and roles in her life. Similarly, Residence Inn has changed through the years, and constantly evolves to enable guests in an ever changing environment.”
With more than 650 properties in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Central America, Residence Inn by Marriott is the leader in the extended-stay lodging segment. Designed for long stays, the brand offers spacious suites with separate living and sleeping areas. Fully functional kitchens, grocery delivery, 24-hour markets and complimentary breakfast help guests maintain a healthy balance while on the road. Complimentary Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected to the home and office, while
health and fitness options and inviting lobby spaces provide comfortable places to work and relax. Residence Inn participates in the company’s award-winning Marriott Rewards® frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information or reservations, call the Residence Inn toll-free number at 800-331-3131 or visit